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I Just Watched...

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44 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934)

 

I agree that this film is entertaining, and it makes interesting comparison to the John Barrymore and Errol Flynn versions. Barrymore is a cynical predator while Flynn's world weary version of the Don is getting a bit tired of the chase.

Fairbanks is said to have hated the aging process, yet he good naturedly allowed his character to be the butt of the humour with the screenplay's numerous aging references. His Don Juan is also, in spite of his reputation, portrayed as a bit naive when it comes the fair sex. The Korda production is also noteworthy for its striking black and white photography.

I agree, Lawrence, that this was an effective costumer for the man who had started movie swashbucklers to have ended his career. I recall the shocked, horrified look on an aging Don Juan's face when a homely middle aged woman (Athene Seyler) proposes marriage to him, saying, "You've no money, no looks, not very much brains and you're no chicken. Well, neither am I."

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Fairbanks' Don Juan applying his lovemaking technique to Binnie Barnes but the lady is less than impressed

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16 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Operator 13 (1934) - Silly Civil War-era musical/romance/spy movie from MGM and director Richard Boleslawski. Marion Davies stars as Gail Loveless, a stage performer who gets recruited by the Union army to act as an undercover spy. She's sent to infiltrate the army of General Stuart (Douglass Dumbrille), which she does in blackface, pretending to be a black maid. She and fellow spy Pauline (Katharine Alexander) barely escape, only for Gail to be sent back down south, this time as a white lady, where she inadvertently falls in love with Confederate officer Jack (Gary Cooper).

 

I mentioned before that Pauline Cushman was a real person who famously spied for the North and that Emma Edwards actually covered her shin with a chemical that turned it dark and posed as a bi-racial slave to get information from the South to the North.  I saw this film earlier this year and was impressed with Marion Davies, whom I knew only by reputation. and Jean Parker.  it's an interesting part of history for those who might not know the facts. 

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1 hour ago, wouldbestar said:

I mentioned before that Pauline Cushman was a real person who famously spied for the North and that Emma Edwards actually covered her shin with a chemical that turned it dark and posed as a bi-racial slave to get information from the South to the North. 

I'll go out on a limb and guess that you made a typo, but if not, if she was able to turn just her shin dark and get away with the ruse, she's all the more impressive! :lol:

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The Return of Bulldog Drummond (1934) - British action movie is a stark departure from the earlier Ronald Colman film, this one from British International Pictures and director Walter Summers. Ralph Richardson steps into the title role as the former military man turned private detective. He's now settled down and married to Phyllis (Ann Todd), but when an international cabal of arms dealers led by Drummond's nemesis Carl Peterson (Francis L. Sullivan) uses murder to try and thwart peace talks, thus causing another world war from which they can profit, Drummond organizes his fellow military comrades into a secret group known as the "Black Clan" to stop Peterson's gang. Also featuring Joyce Kennedy, Claud Allister, H. Saxon-Snell, Spencer Trevor, and Charles Mortimer.

Colman's turn as the title character was a suave adventure done on a lark, with as much comedy as suspense. This outing is more akin to a Saturday morning serial, with multiple cliffhanger moments, nefarious villains straight from a comic strip, and the odd sight of Drummond and his Black Clan allies dressed in matching black outfits and leather aviator caps. Richardson seems like an odd casting choice, but he's good with the verbal putdowns and he's surprisingly energetic during his many fisticuffs scenes. The following year he would appear in the next Drummond film, Alias Bulldog Drummond aka Bulldog Jack, but not in the title role.  (6/10)

Source: FilmStruck. The print is in mediocre condition, unusual for this streaming service.

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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) New York Tail Fin Noir

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This is one of the great New York Film Noir.

This film was directed by Robert Wise director of Born to Kill (1947), The Set-Up (1949), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), I Want to Live! (1958), it was based on a novel by William P. McGivern, and the screenplay was by Abraham Polonsky. As one of Hollywood's writers blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Polonsky had to use a front, John O. Killens, a black novelist and friend of Belafonte's, also credited is writer Nelson Gidding.

The excellent crisp stylistically noir cinematography (some of it infrared) of New York City and Upstate New York, filled with beautiful monochrome compositions was by Joseph C. Brun (Walk East on Beacon! 1952), Girl of the Night (1960), Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965)) and the jazzy Music was by John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet. This film was one of the first productions from Harry Belafonte's own company, HarBel Productions.

The film stars four Classic Noir Vets with a total of twenty six Film Noir between them. Robert Ryan, who specialized in crazed, on the verge of out of control nut jobs. Shelley Winters, the eternal **** in her own mind, who in later years, never seemed to realize she was way past her use by date. Everybody's grandpa Ed Begley. And Gloria Grahame, whose real life bizarre sexual peccadillos rivaled that of even the kinkyest Film Noir.

In addition to the above, and also with an excellent performance in his film noir debut is the "King Of Calypso" Harry Belafonte.

10/10 Full review with some screencaps here in Film Noir/Gangster.

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The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) - British biopic of the Russian empress, from producer Alexander Korda and director Paul Czinner. Elisabeth Bergner stars as the naive young German princess who is arranged to marry Peter II (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), the heir to the Russian throne. Peter is a moody, petulant brat, long suffering the animosity of the reigning Empress Elisabeth (Flora Robson). While it appears that Catherine and Peter may just be what the other needed, soon Peter's attentions wander, and Catherine sets out to gain the throne for herself. Also featuring Gerald du Maurier, Irene Vanbrugh, Joan Gardner, Dorothy Hale, Diana Napier, Griffith Jones, and Gibb McLaughlin.

It was interesting comparing this to the same year's The Scarlet Empress, which I just rewatched recently. That film is far superior, one of the best of the year, but this one isn't bad, either. The biggest weakness of this version is Bergner, a very peculiar actress in both look and demeanor. She was a major star of the Austrian and German stage world, and she moved to London to escape the Nazis. She had high profile roles in this, Escape Me Never (1935) which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and the Shakespeare adaptation As You Like It in 1936, opposite a young Olivier. She fades in the shadow of Marlene Dietrich in the role, and Bergner fails to convincingly imbue her with the strength needed for the later scenes. 

The largest difference between the two is the depiction of Peter. In The Scarlet Empress, he's played by Sam Jaffe as a jabbering man-child barely able to operate in the civilized world. Conversely, Fairbanks plays him as a spoiled rich kid, but one with shades of maturity trying to break out, and he also adds a romantic attraction that Jaffe couldn't on his best day. The great Flora Robson is a treat here, just as spoiled and temperamental as her nephew, and she gives the equally revered Louise Dresser in the other film some stiff competition for who played it best. This version features very good costume and set work, but again, the sets can't match the grostesqueries in the other film nor that film's exquisite cinematography.   (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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The River (1951) is one I taped off TCM decades ago. Beautiful Technicolor film about a girl's remembrance of growing up in India in the 1920s, a coming of age tale about life (as it used to be) and death and the river they live on. We see a picture (no politics) about people living together and respecting each other's belief systems even as they struggle with their own beliefs and problems. Every ending is a new beginning. The actor playing Captain John, Thomas Breen, was the son the Joseph Breen, Hollywood's censorship czar from 1934 -1941. The film was based on a book by Rumer Godden.

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43 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)

Many moons ago (maybe I should say many, many moons ago) when Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was gracious enough to respond to a fan letter of mine, he listed the role of Czar Peter as one of the favourites of his career. Mind you, he also listed another ten roles or so as favourites, as well.

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3 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Many moons ago (maybe I should say many, many moons ago) when Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was gracious enough to respond to a fan letter of mine, he listed the role of Czar Peter as one of the favourites of his career. Mind you, he also listed another ten roles or so as favourites, as well.

I thought he was very good in Catherine the Great. Between that and seeing him in the original version of The Dawn Patrol a couple of months ago, my estimation of him as an actor has grown substantially. 

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26 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I thought he was very good in Catherine the Great. Between that and seeing him in the original version of The Dawn Patrol a couple of months ago, my estimation of him as an actor has grown substantially. 

Actually it was my having just seen The Dawn Patrol at a Toronto film revival that prompted me to write my letter to Fairbanks. This was long before there was such a thing as video tape, and the actor was greatly interested to know that there were film societies of that kind (this was in the late '60s) in Toronto. He also listed Scotty in Dawn Patrol as a favourite role. David Niven repeated the part in the 1938 remake, of course, Niven and Fairbanks being friends.

One film of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. that has never been released on either video tape or DVD, confoundingly, is the excellent State Secret. This is a 1950 thriller written/directed by Sidney Gilliat, who had written the screenplay for Hitchcock's Lady Vanishes. In fact this film was the exact kind of subject matter that would have been ideal for Hitch since it has an innocent man on the run (in a mythical nation behind the Iron Curtain from state police) because he knows a major political secret (the nation's dictator died from complications following an operation).

Fairbanks, playing a "common man" with whom the audience identifies, gives one of his best performances in this film as the doctor trying to escape from the country, with solid support from Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins (head of the state police) and, perhaps best of all, Herbert Lom as a slimy underground character forced, against his will, to assist Fairbanks (Lom brings some delightful dark humour to the production).

I rank State Secret as one of Fairbanks very best films and, you guessed it, the actor also listed his role in this film as a favourite.

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The Road to Ruin (1934) - Early juvenile delinquency scare film from First Division Pictures, and written, produced and co-directed (with Melville Shyer) by Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport). High school student Ann (Helen Foster) falls in with a bad crowd that's into drinking, smoking, and dancing poorly. Her new goofball boyfriend Tommy (Glen Boles) likes booze as much as he likes pawing Ann, so she gets bored and starts seeing shady character Ralph (Paul Page), who leads her into even darker depravity, like skinny-dipping in the backyard pool, strip dice games, and more poor dancing. Also featuring Nell O'Day as Ann's best galpal (they read naughty books together), Robert Quirk, Richard Hemingway, Virginia True Boardman, and Mae Busch. 

Routine fare for this genre, this was a remake of a 1928 silent of the same name. There's a lengthy nightclub scene in the middle of the film featuring 3 bad singing performances (accompanied by the aforementioned bad dancing) that made me wish that this one was silent, too. Of course, the ultimate culprit for Ann's degeneracy is her parents inattention, since they're too busy heading out "to the Cotton Club". This morality lesson/time capsule is good for some unintentional laughs.  (4/10 or 6/10 on the so-bad-its-good scale)

Source: YouTube.

road.jpg

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I like those kind of movies.  In fact, I believe I saw a portion of ROAD TO RUIN somewhere many moons ago.  Those old "morality lesson" films crack me up no matter WHEN they were made.  One of my favorites is one made in '58 called THE COOL AND THE CRAZY.  An early RICHARD BAKALYAN and SCOTT MARLOWE flick, it involved a reform school "graduate" Bennie, who introduces a local street gang to "M"( ;)  marijuana) and gets them "hooked" :D  Tickled me to see the scene in which members of the gang are all anxiously waiting for Bennie in the local malt shoppe, clutching their sides in pain and agony wondering "When's Bennie gonna get here with the "M" ?"  :lol:

Sepiatone

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The St. Louis Kid (1934) - Routine programmer that lives on the appeal of its star, from Warner Brothers and director Ray Enright. James Cagney stars as Eddie Kennedy, a delivery truck driver with a penchant for getting into fisticuffs. He and his long suffering pal Buck (Allen Jenkins) get assigned to drive a route through dairy country, where Eddie manages to ignite the simmering tensions in the area and star a "milk war". When the conflict gets deadly, and Eddie's new gal Ann (Patricia Ellis) gets kidnapped, he has to rescue her and try to end the tensions. Also featuring Robert Barrat, Hobart Cavanaugh, Spencer Charters, Addison Richards, Dorothy Dare, Arthur Aylesworth, Rosalie Roy, and Charles Middleton.

This is one of those films where Cagney really has no distinct character, but rather just his usual screen persona dropped into a new situation. Truck drivers vs striking dairy farmers is an unusual conflict for the movies, and it's not really explored too much beyond providing an excuse for the various dilemmas. Ellis is an actress I'm not too familiar with, and she doesn't come across as much more than a pretty face here. The movie isn't terrible, but it's not one of Cagney's highlights, either.  (6/10)

Source: TCM.

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The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) - Very good period adventure film from producer Alexander Korda and director Harold Young. Leslie Howard stars as the title hero, an Englishman who heads a secret group of like-minded men that help to smuggle aristocrats out of France during the Reign of Terror. Sir Percy Blakeney (Howard) masquerades as a foppish dandy to throw off suspicion, and he even starts to alienate his wife Lady Blakeney (Merle Oberon) with his foolish persona. Things get more dangerous for Sir Percy and his men when the clever Chauvelin (Raymond Massey) arrives, intent on discovering the identity of the Pimpernel and destroying his organization. Also featuring Nigel Bruce, Bramwell Fletcher, Joan Gardner, Anthony Bushell, Walter Rilla, and Melville Cooper.

I think I may have seen this when I was very young, as parts seemed familiar this time around. I'm glad I decided to see this again, though, as I was thoroughly impressed by Howard's persona, and would rank this among his best roles. Massey, too, has a great time as the devilish antagonist. Oberon is excellent, and very beautiful. The production design is up to Korda's usual high pedigree. Along with The Private Life of Don Juan and The Rise of Catherine the Great, 1934 proved to be a truly stellar year for Alexander Korda. Recommended.  (8/10)

Source: TCM.

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On 6/13/2015 at 5:04 PM, laffite said:

 

Well, it's about time. Where you've been, man. I don't even watch movies any more. I used to read once in awhile and have sex with girls, but hey, why waste time with dull activities like that when you can treat yourself to the exhilarating experience of consulting the top ten most searched TCM database. I no longer engage in unworthily activities such as watching films on that august list when I could be watching the actual list itself. Hey man, time to get your priorities in order.

 

laffite

Don't watch only film that are on the Top Ten Most Searched Lists because then you'd never get to see something like "Liquid Sky".

 

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The Sea Horse (1934) - French documentary short from director Jean Painleve that details the title creature, including its physical make-up, its reproductive cycle, and how it moves about its environment. This is common stuff now, with entire channels devoted to animals of all shapes and sizes, but nature documentaries were fairly rare back in '34, and this look at one of nature's true oddities must have been impressive. I thought of fellow poster SansFin at this 15-minute short's end, the word "FIN" formed by sea horses.  (7/10)

Source: FilmStruck.

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The Dirty Dozen (1967) about a 7/10, never did figure out how Clint Walker's character died, a screw up in the film.

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1 hour ago, cigarjoe said:

The Dirty Dozen (1967) about a 7/10, never did figure out how Clint Walker's character died, a screw up in the film.

http://pointblankbook.com/what-happened-to-dirty-dozens-samson-posey/

Walker seems to intimate that his character's final sequence was cut to give Jim Brown the opportunity to do the grenade run.

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Sing and Like It (1934) - Amusing musical comedy from RKO and director William A. Seiter. Soft-hearted gangster Tony Sylvester (Nat Pendleton) hears amateur songsmith Annie Snodgrass (Zasu Pitts) singing a schmaltzy tune and decides to help make her a star and the song a hit. He enlists the aid of moll, former showgirl Ruby (Pert Kelton), and incredulous theatrical producer Adam Frink (Edward Everett Horton). Also featuring John Qualen, Ned Sparks, Matt McHugh, Stanley Fields, Richard Carle, Joe Sawyer, Roy D'Arcy, and Paul Hurst.

This minor attraction is funny and appealing in a low-expectation kind of way. The cast of veteran character performers rise to the occasion as leads.   (7/10)

Source: TCM.

3152-2.jpg

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22 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

The Road to Ruin (1934) - Early juvenile delinquency scare film from First Division Pictures, and written, produced and co-directed (with Melville Shyer) by Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport). High school student Ann (Helen Foster) falls in with a bad crowd that's into drinking, smoking, and dancing poorly. Her new goofball boyfriend Tommy (Glen Boles) likes booze as much as he likes pawing Ann, so she gets bored and starts seeing shady character Ralph (Paul Page), who leads her into even darker depravity, like skinny-dipping in the backyard pool, strip dice games, and more poor dancing. Also featuring Nell O'Day as Ann's best galpal (they read naughty books together), Robert Quirk, Richard Hemingway, Virginia True Boardman, and Mae Busch. 

Routine fare for this genre, this was a remake of a 1928 silent of the same name. There's a lengthy nightclub scene in the middle of the film featuring 3 bad singing performances (accompanied by the aforementioned bad dancing) that made me wish that this one was silent, too. Of course, the ultimate culprit for Ann's degeneracy is her parents inattention, since they're too busy heading out "to the Cotton Club". This morality lesson/time capsule is good for some unintentional laughs.  (4/10 or 6/10 on the so-bad-its-good scale)

Source: YouTube.

This film didn't happen to be made by the same folks who made Reefer Madness was it? 

I love the poster to this film.  It's amazing. My favorite part: "Modern youth, burned at the altar of ignorance?" I don't know, Poster, were they? I choose to believe yes. 

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Brutti, sporchi e cattivi (Ugly, Dirty and Bad) (1976) Director, Ettore Scola, shanty town shenanigans in Via Domizia Lucilla, Rome, Lazio, Italy, 6/10

Ugly, Dirty and Bad Poster

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Thirty Day Princess (1934) - Passably agreeable romantic comedy from Paramount Pictures and director Marion Gering. When the King (Henry Stephenson) of an obscure European country wants to create a social safety net for his nation's poor, shady American banker Gresham (Edward Arnold) says that he can raise the funds through a bond offering. However, he wants the King to send his daughter, Princess Catterina (Sylvia Sidney), to the U.S. on a goodwill tour that will raise awareness of the country and entice investors. When the princess falls ill, though, it looks as if the endeavor will fail, until Gresham hits on the idea of finding a lookalike to stand in for the fallen royal. He finds such a girl in starving actress Nancy (also Sidney) who jumps at the chance (and the paycheck). Her easy job gets complicated when she falls for newspaper publisher Porter Madison III (Cary Grant), threatening to unravel the whole charade. Also featuring Vince Barnett, Edgar Norton, Ray Walker, Lucien Littlefield, Robert McWade, and Eleanor Wesselhoeft.

One of the five credited screenwriters was Preston Sturges, and his touch comes through in some sharp dialogue. The story is a bit overly convoluted, and not every plot thread gets a proper resolution, but the leads are attractive and the mood is light enough to make this a pleasant time-waster.   (7/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Cary Grant Screen Legend Collection.

thirtydayprincess.jpg?itok=qnGaRNEc 

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The Trail Beyond (1934) - John Wayne invades Canada in this dull, cheap western from Monogram and director Robert Bradbury. Wayne stars as Rod Drew, a nice young man who agrees to head up to Canada to find the long-lost niece of a family friend. Along the way, Drew runs into old school chum Wabi (Noah Beery Jr.), and the two get mistakenly accused of murder. Now on the run from the Mounties as well as still searching for the girl, the two land in a small town where various bad guys are after a map to hidden gold. Also featuring Noah Beery Sr., Verna Hillie, Robert Frazer, Iris Lancaster, Earl Dwire, and Eddie Parker.

This is dumb and boring, even by poverty row western standards. The less-than-an-hour runtime is heavily padded with travel footage and horse chases/falls that seem to go on forever. The shootouts are poorly staged, but not as badly as the fistfights, with punches clearly missing the target by a foot or more. This is a rare chance to see both Noah Beery's acting together, and the location scenery in Mammoth Lakes, California is nice.  (4/10)

Source: Starz Encore Westerns. The print shown had an awful synthesizer score that must have been added for a 1980's video release.

krVto.jpg

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On 12/6/2017 at 4:39 PM, LawrenceA said:

I'll go out on a limb and guess that you made a typo, but if not, if she was able to turn just her shin dark and get away with the ruse, she's all the more impressive! :lol:

Touche!  I need to proofread my h's and K's.  The bio of Ms. Edwards that I read said she once missed a spot on the back of her neck and when questioned replied: "I always knew I'd turn white some day; my Mammy was". She got away with it. 

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Upper World (1934) - Under-cooked romance with crime elements, from Warner Brothers and director Roy Del Ruth. Warren William stars as wealthy and powerful business tycoon Alexander Stream, a workaholic who rarely has time to spend with his wife Hettie (Mary Astor), who herself has a busy social life. Aboard his yacht one day, Alexander rescues a swimmer in distress who turns out to be showgirl Lilly Linda (Ginger Rogers). Her fun-loving, no-nonsense attitude appeals to Alexander, and the two strike up a strong friendship. However, people in Lilly's life see an opportunity for easy money, and the ramifications could prove ruinous to all involved. Also featuring Andy Devine, Ferdinand Gottschalk, J. Carrol Naish, Robert Barrat, Sidney Toler, Henry O'Neill, Robert Greig, John Qualen, and Dickie Moore.

The relationship between William and Rogers is well-drawn and believable, and the two have chemistry. Rogers is good, and has a strong emotional scene late in the film. Astor doesn't have much to do, as her character is one of the underdeveloped aspects of the film. Devine, Naish, and Toler are all solid in minor roles. My main issue with this movie was that it seemed to end just as things were getting interesting, and the finale seemed too rushed and very anti-climactic.   (6/10)

Source: TCM.

UpperWorld.JPG

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